Senate Republicans consider keeping parts of Obamacare they once promised to kill

Senate Republicans have also been mulling options to more slowly roll back the expansion of Medicaid that most states accepted under Obamacare, and they are also openly talking about keeping many of the taxes the law imposed. The goal is to find a sweet spot of at least 50 votes in a sharply divided group of 52 Republican senators, many of whom are from states where coverage levels increased under President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.

But Senate GOP leaders run the risk of alienating an influential trio of conservative senators — Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) — who previously demanded that the party follow through on promises to completely gut the law…

As he entered a Senate Republican health-care meeting on Thursday, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said he believed the talks are indeed moving in a direction of preserving more of the law. Heller, who is up for reelection in a state that expanded Medicaid, said he supports a seven-year reduction of federal payments for people now covered under Medicaid.

Other Republicans from Medicaid expansion states, including Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), said they favor the seven-year timeline. They envision gradually reducing the payments from 2020 to 2027, rather than the more abrupt rollback that would occur in 2020 under the House bill.